Technology giants Apple, famous for their range of services and high-end technology hardware such as the iPhone, have announced, in partnership with the Redford center, the return of their Redford Center Stories Challenge. The Redford Center was co-founded by Hollywood star and director Robert Redford and his late son James Redford, who tragically passed away in 2020. It was founded to support and fund film projects that promote environmental justice and repair.
The center’s mission is to spread a message of hope around the climate and environmental crisis and to counterbalance the propagation of more pessimistic narratives. It caters to and supports over 400 artists from diverse backgrounds who share the initiative’s common goals. The Redford Center Stories Challenge is one of the major wings of the center’s activities, alongside its original productions and grants. Its focus is on bringing students and educators into creative conversation with youth activists and filmmakers working in the areas of environmental and social justice movements.
The competition places young students in the role of director to construct a short Apple Clip on a topic of their choosing around the themes of environmental justice and youth activism. Judges for this year’s competition include Katie Eder, co-founder of Future Coalition, an American nonprofit centered on encouraging youth activism and supporting the youth climate movement. Joining Eder will be documentary film-maker Faith E. Briggs and Coyote Peterson, Youtuber and host of Animal Planet’s Coyote Peterson: Brave the Wild. Also on the panel are organizers Lisa Jackson, Apple VP of environment, social and policy initiatives, along with Robert Redford himself.
The partnership is the latest in a series of initiatives Lisa Jackson has overseen on behalf of the Cupertino technology company. In their announcement statement, Jackson commented on how young people are leading the discourse on environmental action today. She went on to state that she hopes Apple’s involvement in the competition will help raise the voices of young people and provide them with the tools they need to create content that inspires change.
Robert Redford has been a life-long environmental advocate and has used his fame and wealth to platform ecological issues since the 1970s. Among the most extensive legal battles he fought was for the survival of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a national park in Utah. With the help of other celebrities, he strove to keep control of the land out of the hands of private industry for over 30 years.
In film, Redford got his start in the 60s romantic dramas Splendor in the Grass (1961) and Inside Daisy Clover (1965) alongside Natalie Wood. He then went on to become a household name with a string of leading roles in the 70s that attracted numerous accolades and awards. The first of these was the Western adventure film Butch Cassidy, followed by The Sundance Kid, from which the Sundance Film Festival takes its name.
Redford returned to bring the world 1973’s The Sting, the hugely entertaining (and endlessly re-watchable) caper movie that paired him up with Paul Newman as 1930s grifters out to exact revenge on a mob-boss. In 1976, Redford played Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward alongside Dustin Hoffman in All The President’s Men, the critically acclaimed political drama centered on the Watergate scandal. These series of performances cemented Redford as one of the finest actors of his generation.
In 1978, Redford was involved in the founding of the US/Utah Film Festival, which soon became the largest independent film festival in the United States. In 1991, the festival was officially renamed as the Sundance Film Festival and continues to be a major event in the independent cinema calendar. This year, Questlove’s documentary Summer of Soul was awarded the Grand Jury Prize.
The Redford Center Stories Challenge competition is open to all. Winners will be announced in April 2021.